Barnaby Joyce’s so-called Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) is a $28 million boondoggle and the latest pork barrelling exercise of a Deputy Prime Minister in political trouble and without a strategic plan for Australian agriculture or the regions.
The RIC will not be an “investment corporation”. It will approve or deny applications for concessional loans, work already being done by each of the state-based rural adjustment authorities. One of which is based in Orange.
If the RIC requires 200 employees to process loans, it will be the most expensive and inefficient bureaucracy in the history of the Federation.
The lack of any competitive tender is another example of a Barnaby Joyce pork barrel special.
There are reports that regional cities considered but not selected to host the RIC boondoggle include Albury-Wodonga, Bathurst, Bendigo, Lithgow, Toowoomba and Wagga Wagga. These regional cities are entitled to know the determining factors in choosing Orange, and what process was followed.
Orange was not eligible to host the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) under the Policy Order Joyce created to enable that relocation pork barrel. It seems the Policy Order was only designed for one job; to justify Armidale as the host city.
Barnaby Joyce describes the RIC as a $4 billion initiative. That is a terrible hoax on the Australian community. $4 billion is the capital value of all loans if they were to be issued, not the cost of the loans or Government investment in the regions.
The cost of the RIC is $28 million. Combined with the up to $60 million Joyce will spend on his APVMA pork barrel, that’s a lot of money that could be spent on genuine job-creating regional infrastructure projects or research and development in the agriculture sector.
Barnaby Joyce tries to blame the states for problems with farm concessional loans. It’s always someone else’s fault. But as late as January, Barnaby Joyce was trying to make the states pay more of the costs of the administering his own loan program.
Labor will not waste $28 million shifting work from a state bureaucracy to a new federal bureaucracy.
Barnaby Joyce has no decentralisation plan, only a plan to ward off One Nation.